This morning I had the privilege of collecting a dear friend of mine from the airport. As someone who has gotten my way to and from a few terminals in my own time, I know exactly how much of a blessing it is to be greeted at the arrivals gate not with a taxi rank, but a smiling face, so early, and unshowered, I piled myself into the car to make my way through the traffic to Tullamarine. Instead of my usual route West of the city, I decided to take a different way… and ended up on a wild goose chase through an unmapped labriynth of congested traffic, wrong turns, and frustration.
It started well enough, loud music, rising excitement to see a loved one, and just enough petrol to make the round trip, but it all went pear shaped (what’s so wrong with the shape of a pear anyway?) about fifteen minutes in when I realised I was driving in the exact opposite direction of where I was supposed to be headed. In this, I did what any normal human without a road map would do – started swearing. Profusley, and after several atomic sized f-bombs in the confines of the car, began to make a series of turns left and right to get back on the right road. After being caught in roadworks, sandwiched between angry school Mums in SUV’s and coasting down a tourist scenic route beside the river – I could see, to my left, the freeway I wanted to be on, and oh how I longed to be on that freeway as I drove in hopes of somehow finding a way to get there as fast as possible. A handful of turns later, I was there! Driving like the wind though a tunnel out West delighted and proud of myself for my navigational prowess when before I knew it… I had gone too far West. So far West had I and my Holden travelled that I was now in a one way lane of traffic with no exits in sight about to drive over the Williamstown Bridge, a bridge which until this morning, I have only looked at from far in the distance and thought “good God that’s a bloody long bridge to nowhere!” This morning friends – I drove that bridge to nowehere, swearing and fuming the whole way over.
Until I saw the view.
Until I beheld that sight, and no longer was it a veritable Niagra Falls of swears cascading from my lips, but a soft sigh of astonishment at just how beautiful the city looked, and how spectacular it is the way that sunlight speckles the water with diamonds when the light hits it just right.
It’s times like these – hot of the heels of a good old swear session – that we can only laugh, and my God, life’s funny isn’t it? It’s funny how everything you’ve been mulling over for months can be summed up in the space of a morning.
This has been a big year for me so far, big in a way unlike any recent year has been that I can recall. I started this year coming down off the high of an entire year of days which seemed like something out of a dream, and have spent much of these first few months in confusion and frustration pedalling water to keep my head above it just longe enough to figure out what in God’s name to do next. And in this time, I have made some fantastically wrong turns to get from A to B.
I heard it said a long time ago that “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be who you always were,” and being someone who wants to be open to change in my own life, no matter how scary that change may seem before the slice, I decided I wanted to do this year differentley. I decided that this year, I wanted to take the “road less travelled,” to get from January to December – and just see what happened. What’s a year anyway in the big scheme of things? So with no real map of how to do life in a manner unlike any of the years before… I began.
I started small…
I thew out clothes.
I changed my room around.
I wrote a list of new dreams I’d like to live.
I started getting a tattoo I’ve wanted since I was, well, since I can remember.
I did Lent and abstained from animal products for forty-days.
I decided I wanted to learn about cynacism and judgement and, inspired by a man with a violin, I decided I wanted to see the regular, every day stuff of life in Melbourne with new eyes.
I had very honest, and very difficult conversations with people who mean the world to me.
I let go of a lot, and that process has been hard. Come to think of it, I can’t think of many things harder than letting go of almost everything you thought you knew as a foundation and jumping out of the boat and on to water in hopes you might stay afloat. But, in that letting go, in that trust, and in that faith that even though things may be different – they can be good in a new way that you mightn’t have even dreamed of yet… I have experienced moments of inexplicable delight. Moments where I have been able to laugh, big belly laughs, at the confusion of life – and know that it will all be okay, no… it will all be incredible again.
I don’t know when life will go back to feeling like how it felt at the top of the Chrysler Building or playing a gig with my own backing band of obscenely talented musicians. I don’t know when I’ll have loads of money again and I don’t know when I’ll remember what it feels like to have butterflies around someone… but I do know that all those incredible blessings of life will come back… and that they will be all the more utopian for these hard months where I have allowed and trusted in God to work on my character. Where I have taken wrong turns, been caught in road works, and sometimes stopped to notice just how beautiful the view can be amongst the mess and congestion of life.
I got back off the bridge, took the right exit and ended up smooth sailing at 100 all the way to the airport this morning, I knew I would make it there eventually, and I collected my friend and as we shared stories and laughed all the way home the frustration of getting from A to B disolved like a Berocca in a tall glass of water. But without that ridiculous trip, which at the time seemed so pointless, seemed so frustrating, and that made me wish I had just gone the same old way… I wouldn’t have looked back across Melbourne with fresh eyes from a very long bridge, and I would not be here now writing this.
I don’t know when I’ll be going at 100 again, or what the new life equivelent of 100 will even look like in the future but hot damn, if my memories of waiting and finally receiving serve me well, I know it will be every bit worth having gone a different way.